In the US, opioids are costing businesses an estimated $42 billion every year due to absenteeism, increased healthcare expenses, lost productivity, and increased Workers’ Compensation Insurance costs. Opioid addiction is the country’s biggest health crisis, and research shows that more than 50% of individuals who die from an opioid overdose had at least one job-related injury.
The opioid crisis is hitting construction workers harder than most. This comes as no surprise since construction workers are more likely to be injured on the job than many other occupations, and 25.3% of those injured workers were prescribed opioids to treat the pain caused by those injuries.
The result is that 15% of construction workers have a substance use disorder, while the national average is nearly half that at 8.6%, according to the National Safety Council.
What are Opioids?
Opioids – a type of painkiller prescribed for short-term relief of acute pain and cancer patients – include Hydrocodone (Vicodin®), Oxycodone (OxyContin®), Oxymorphone (Opana®), Morphine, Codeine, and Fentanyl.
What are the Risks of Opioids?
Here are a few risks with Prescription Opioid use, according to the National Association of Home Builders:
- Tolerance – People who take opioids quickly build up a tolerance to the drug and need to take a higher dosage to relieve the pain.
- Dependence – Even when opioids are taken as directed, people quickly become dependent on opioids, and withdrawal is horrible.
- Misuse – Some people build a tolerance and develop a dependence on opioids, which often causes them to take more than directed.
- Overdose – Being prescribed opioids is the most significant risk factor for accidental overdose and death.
- Addition – Individuals who have been prescribed opioids for long-term or chronic pain are 25% more likely to become addicted.
- Using it as a diversion – In 2017, at least 14% of high school students took prescription opioids “just for fun.
- Drug interactions – Mixing any prescription drug with alcohol or other drugs can be dangerous, and opioid is no different.
And it isn’t just the people addicted to opioids that are affected. The National Safety Council reports, “Substance use disorders affected 20.8 million Americans, almost 8% of the adult & adolescent population, when you include family members of those affected, nearly 1/3 of the US population is impacted by addiction. While 75% of these people are part of the workforce, most employers are unaware of the hidden costs associated with these problems.”
According to a Center for Construction Research and Training report released earlier this year, “65 unintentional overdose fatalities occurred on the job site in the construction industry in 2018 – a more than nine-fold increase from the seven recorded in 2011. The figure also represents a 35.4% climb from the 48 overdose deaths recorded in 2017.”
Save on Workers’ Compensation Insurance
The National Safety Council reports, “Companies and organizations of all sizes have an important role in promoting the health and safety of employees and managing risks in the workplace.” That includes opioid abuse. Create a safer workplace with a strong safety program that includes opioid education, and you create a workplace where employees thrive, and you enjoy lower Workers’ Compensation Insurance costs.
Want to save more on insurance costs? Give American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.